I’d been happy in my job when my boss changed. She played favorites and I was among the unfavored. Nothing we did pleased her, she’d tell us off in front of others, she threatened us. Unfortunately, it was a recession, so job hunting was a challenging and lengthy process. We needed our jobs and we endured.
Just as some of us had in childhood, in school, the whole process of preparing for life. How we liked this teacher, this “friend” but not that, how the key was fairness. And we often weren’t. Fair–a four-letter elusive word.
We make tribes–family tribes, friend tribes, school tribes, work tribes. Some are ‘in,’ some are ‘out.’ When I was a kid, there were three of us girls in the neighborhood, a difficult number. Our ‘allegiance’ was solid when facing anyone outside our tribe of three. Inside our tribe, allegiances shifted–we paired often, leaving someone out. It was like math: A+B-C, A+C-B, B+C-A. We learned how to grow up.
Walking into my now-hated job each day, I remember those lessons, watched our workplace unfold the same way: Group A, Group B, our boss. Eventually, I found another job, but I knew that there would always be some form of tribe wherever I went. It’s in us, in each one of us. We’ll never solve our human problems until we admit our tribalism–all of us finally together.